Today’s post comes from guest author Charlie Domer, from The Domer Law Firm in Wisconsin. I think the issue of fair wages is huge for workers. It’s right up there with the 20 states (all with Republican governors, according to NPR’s Morning Edition) that are refusing Medicaid expansion. Just because it might go with your politics or increase business profits, does not helping those who struggle make those other choices right? As the United Nations celebrated Human Rights Day earlier this week, injustices like huge corporations not paying their workers enough to live on come into even better focus. I hope that consumers who use these stores can become aware and fight against the reality that the people who are helping them, as retail workers, might not even be able to afford to get daily necessities without help from the taxpayer, thanks to business choosing profits over paying reasonable wages.
Came across this post today: “How McDonald’s and Wal-Mart Became Welfare Queens.” News like this has become so commonplace that you almost accept it with a shrug. Yeah, big box stores and fast food chains are paying their workers cruddy wages, forcing them to go on state health insurance and food stamp assistance. Oh well. Move along. Nothing to see here.
But the outrage should exist. These stories make my blood boil. Many of these companies are making massive profits. You’re telling me you can’t pay a living wage? All of us, as taxpayers, are helping pad the the coffers of these companies. By not providing sufficient wages or health care, the actual taxpayers serve as the necessary social safety net for these workers. Is that really how we want our society and country structured?
Admittedly my experience is anectodal, but I see a number of these workers in my practice–from the greeters at Wal-Mart to those flipping burgers at McDonald’s. Many are making a minimum hourly wage of $7.25. No matter how hard they work (and, in my experience, some of these fast food and retail workers are the hardest workers out there, in light of their work condition), they cannot get ahead or make enough to avoid the necessity of seeking food stamp assistance or of searching for the local food pantry.
Corporations simply should not be able to get rich on the public’s back. As taxpayers, we continue to allow this grossly one-sided equation to continue.